I eagerly await Toyota's return to building proper sports cars with the FT-86. But in the meantime, this Scion tC is one or two improvements away from being a fantastic enthusiast's bargain.
Ditto the bass-heavy comment. I actually had a hard time listening to anything on the stereo in this car because the system adds way too much bass to anything. I played with every setting on the radio, and nothing really brought the bass down to acceptable levels. I can see where the demographic Scion is shooting for might appreciate this sort of bass bias, but it doesn't work for me.
The tC is no sports car, but it's definitely a sporty car with a lot of great qualities, including an impressive price, an excellent manual gearbox, a comfortable ride, good looks, nimble packaging, and large double sunroofs. The Volkswagen GTI or the Honda Civic Si would be superior track-day choices, especially considering their better steering and stronger engines, but as a daily driver, the tC is a more than respectable alternative.
I'm sure Scion's accessories help make cars like the tC more attractive to my demographic (18-24-yr-old male), but apart from the fog lamps, I wasn't blown away by the $6000 worth of kit added to our kit car. Personally, the black rims, coupled with the body kit and boomy exhaust note, reminded me of a prop from "The Fast & The Furious."
Except for the first-generation xB's tendency to hang tail at the cornering limit (with its essential stability control system disabled), I've never had this much fun in any Scion. If I were Mr. Toyoda, every Scion would have this raucous, raunchy personality. Bring on the boomy stereo, the thundering exhaust, the wild run to the red line after every stop light. Think high school senior without a care -- or a rational thought -- in his or her head. The 18-inch wheel and tire set gave this tC tenacious bite on the occasional dry patch of winter pavement and the sporty exhaust system trimmed several seconds from the zero-to-sixty sprint at the psychic (if not the physics), level of perception. I wouldn't spend a penny for the dress-up trinkets but I would recommend that everyone interested in celebrating their child side sign up for a Scion tC test drive.
It's interesting to drive this car after we've recently had in a Nissan Sentra SE-R. After all, both are front-wheel-drive compacts that have been sported up, and both were about $23K. This car is $23,500, and I prefer it. It has a lot more style and presence than the Sentra SE-R, and it's much more fun to drive, partly because it has a five-speed manual. Our test car was larded with some expensive options, most notably a set of very, very cool black TRD 18-inch wheels with Toyo sport tires. The $600 TRD exhaust is just about right: not too noisy, but noisy enough. I'd much rather have this exhaust from TRD than from the aftermarket. I've always liked the tC; I think it's a nice combination of sportiness and practicality, with its hatchback. After several years on the road, it also still looks very good. Ergonomics are very straightforward. I'm not exactly sure why they felt the need to have a lid for the stereo system, but I suppose it looks kinda cool when it's shut, and this car is all about looking cool.